We don’t know if the copy is going to be in the paper or just online, but today, STAT makes its debut — in both formats. The site promises “Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine We take you inside the science labs and hospitals, biotech boardrooms and political backrooms. We dissect crucial discoveries. We examine controversies and puncture hype. We hold individuals and institutions accountable. We introduce you to the power brokers and personalities who are driving a revolution in human health.
Today’s story –how social media is gumming up clinical trials and riling up pharma investors. It begins with a story of a woman who posts about being in a clinical trial.
The stock of a Cambridge-based biotech company would rise and fall with her updates. Investors would scrutinize Stracham’s words and pore over individual frames in her videos. Stracham herself would be subjected to uncomfortable questions from strangers: Could she control her bowels? What about her bladder? Was she faking the small gains in movement she chronicled online? Other strangers would help her raise about $40,000 online to cover her medical bills — and, most unexpectedly, her posts would lead her to love.
This wasn’t the first time a patient had taken to social media, of course. Parents of terminally ill children have staged massive Twitter and Facebook campaigns to demand access to experimental drugs. They’ve rallied online for lower prices and faster approval of new therapies.
But Stracham’s upbeat posts pushed into new territory, raising unsettling questions about the integrity of clinical trials and the power of patients to move the market in the age of social media. “Whoop Whoop moving this process along!!” she wrote in March. “Oh you know just taking some small steps today!” she captioned a video of herself moving with the support of a physical therapist in May.
Don’t expect familiar bylines from the Globe’s strong health and science staff. Stat is separate from the Globe newsroom. The new site spent a few months rounding up health and science staff with impressive resumes. (They’ve already had one employee dust up.)
We wish them well and know they’ll produce much copy for us to share.
A bit more on Stat here from Poynter.
A lot more on patients and social media from Boston’s own PatientsLikeMe:
…(W)e continually enhance our platform, where patients can share and learn from real-world, outcome-based health data. We’ve also centered our business around these values by aligning patient and industry interests through data-sharing partnerships. We work with trusted nonprofit, research and industry Partners who use this health data to improve products, services and care for patients.